Fishing tournament funds a good cause

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Reeling her in: Though he won't be able to particpate in this year's Big Bass Bash on Lake Michigan in late June, pro fisherman Kevin VanDam demonstrates how to reel in a smallmouth bass. | Supplied photo

Besides fishing?

Plenty of other fun will be
happening June 29 in the area
just outside Bass Pro Shops.

On stage:

Noon to 2 p.m. - Jamrose

2:20 to 4:30 p.m. -

4:30-6 p.m. - DJ

Food vendors:

Quaker Steak & Lube,
Leroy’s Hot Stuff, Kandu Joes, Kazoos, Don’s Elephant Ears

Kid activities:

Noon to 5 p.m.

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Get ready to do some serious fishing ­— for a worthy cause.

Bass Pro Shops in Portage will sponsor its inaugural bass-fishing tournament June 29 in Lake Michigan.

Called the “Big Bass Bash,” the daylong event is expected to draw more than 300 fishermen who will be angling for a $10,000 first prize. The competition will feature two-person teams who will be allowed to bring back up to five smallmouth or largemouth bass.

The team bringing in a catch with the most combined weight will share the $10,000 first prize (based on 150 boats participating in the contest).

Jim Osborne, manager of Bass Pro Shops in Portage, said the idea of a bass-fishing tournament evolved after numerous discussions about helping charitable organizations, especially veterans' groups.

“We have some experience working with charitable organizations,” Osborne said. “What better way to help out than by supporting a group of veterans who were wounded fighting for our great country.

“We thought the Wounded Warrior Project and the Warriors First Foundation were two very deserving foundations,” he said.

Osborne said that while Lake Michigan is known for its abundance of perch and salmon, bass — both smallmouth and largemouth variety — are gaining a strong foothold in the lake.

“We have a lot of tournament fishermen around here, and this is a great opportunity to start something new that, hopefully, we can do every year while giving back to worthy causes,” he said.

The tournament

Osborne said fishermen will leave in their boats at 6:30 a.m. the day of the tournament and return by 3 p.m. that afternoon. Where they go for those eight-and-a-half hours is up to them. Some will cruise to Wisconsin or Michigan and test the waters up north, while others will fish the waters in Illinois and Indiana.

Each team will be allowed up to five fish. They will be weighed at the Holiday Property adjacent to the Bass Pro Shops in Portage, and Woo Daves, the 2000 winner of the Bassmasters Classic, will serve as the day’s master of ceremonies.

Osborne said the record for a largemouth bass is 23 pounds while the record for a smallmouth bass is 13 pounds. But he cautioned not to expect fish anywhere near those sizes in Lake Michigan.

“We’ll probably see fish between two and six pounds,” Osborne said. “But, then again, who knows.”

He said the only rules are that the fishermen return by 3 p.m. and they use artificial bait. “Otherwise, that’s it.”

Other doings

While the fishermen are testing their luck on the water, back on land there are several events planned.

In addition to the fishing tournament, there will be food available and local bands will be playing. There will also be live and silent auctions, and raffles. Money raised during these events will go to help the wounded veterans’ organizations.

“We’re trying to put together a day filled with events for the entire family,” Osborne said. “We want to have something for everyone and make it a daylong event and one in which people will want to return to every year.”

The event will serve as a vehicle to promote tournament fishing while promoting the “two great organizations,” he said. “We’re excited about this event and we hope everyone who comes out has a great time.”